Nov. 9, 2007
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. - The South Carolina women's soccer team fell to second-seed and 13th ranked Georgia, 2-0, Friday evening in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament held at the Orange Beach Soccer Complex. South Carolina is now 14-6-2 on the year while Georgia improves to 17-2-2. Carolina now awaits word on the 64-team field for the NCAA Tournament to be announced Monday night.
"These players and our staff believe we can win a conference championship, and we were so close which is what's so disappointing," head coach Shelley Smith said. "This group of players and this team with what they've done and how they've played, they deserve to (play again). This should not be their last game. That's what we're looking at. We have all anticipation that we'll have another game, and that's where our head is at."
The Lady Bulldogs went ahead courtesy of a South Carolina own goal at 48:08, the first own goal given up by Carolina this season. Traci Dreesen scored Georgia's second goal at 55:27 with a shot in the middle of a scuffle in front of the Carolina goal.
The 2-0 score marks only the second time this season that Carolina has dropped a game by more than one goal, the other coming in a 2-0 loss to Florida in the regular season.
"Give credit to Georgia, they found a way to get to the championship," Smith said.
Each team only attempted one shot in the opening 18 minutes as both teams battled back and forth throughout the first half. Carolina had the first opportunity to score in the 33rd minute when Erin Sullivan played a ball to Samantha Diaz-Matosas in the box, but her spot on shot was saved by goalkeeper Michelle Betos. The Lady Bulldogs countered in the 40th with their best attack but Lindsay Stein's shot in the box sailed wide right to end the Georgia threat. Carolina's Kimmy Gillespie was able to push the ball up the field in the resulting minutes but her final shot missed as the teams headed to halftime.
Ashley Kirk led the Carolina attack at the start of the second half, knocking a shot over goal 23 seconds into the start. The Gamecocks then gave up the goal three minutes later and worked uphill to try to catch the Lady Bulldogs. Sullivan attempted a header off a corner kick by Brooke Jacobs that just missed over the goal in the 63rd. Jacobs, who led the team with three shots, attempted a strike of her own in the 83rd that was tip saved by Betos to preserve the score.
South Carolina outshot Georgia 8-5 with both teams recording three shots on goal. Both teams attempted seven corner kicks.
"I feel, and I know other coaches in our conference feel like we're one of the strongest teams in our conference," Smith said. "This conference is so strong and the southeast region is extremely talented and powerful. It's one of the best in the country and it should be well-represented, with us included."
The 64-team Women's College Cup bracket will be announced on ESPNEWS on Monday, November 12, between 8-8:30 p.m. ET. USC is looking to obtain its first at-large berth since the 1998 season.
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